Tuesday 28 June 2011

Prayer for Sudan

Please join in praying for the people of Sudan, especially the troubled South Kordofan region, which includes the Nuba Mountains, which are experiencing extreme unrest.

Lord of all, we join our prayers to those of your children in Sudan, in their tears and pain, especially those of South Kordofan, and all who suffer conflict or violence.

God of Justice, bring your justice wherever there is strife, killing or displacement.

God of Peace, bring your peace which passes all understanding to yearning hearts.

Move the powerful to compassion and mercy, strengthen the weak even as they face persecution, and raise up the nations of this world and all people of good will in opposition to these atrocious acts.

Hasten the dawning of the day when all your children, and especially those in Sudan, can live according to your peace and harmony.

We pray this in the name of God, who is Father, Son and Holy Spirit. AMEN

To the Laos - To the People of God, June 2011

Dear People of God

I am writing to you on my return from a visit to the Diocese of Niassa, in northern Mozambique. Having had the privilege of working in the mainly rural diocese of Grahamstown, where I encountered both the rawness of poverty and the generosity of people, in many ways it felt like coming home.

Bishop Mark and I travelled around the three Mozambican provinces of his diocese. In some places the roads were non-existent, and at one point we had to find a route across a river, with no bridge, to get to the Cathedral! We began my visit by going to the grave of Bishop Charles Mackenzie, who was first Archdeacon of Natal, and then consecrated in 1861 as a missionary bishop to the peoples near the Zambezi river. He died within a year – and yet today people still speak of his faith and his courage for the gospel. His grave is in a marsh, on a fertile banana plantation between the Rue and Shire rivers. We celebrated the Eucharist under a plastic yellow tent hoisted on sticks, and I felt deeply conscious of the joy of being ‘made one with all God’s people of every age’ (both the living and the departed), and, indeed, ‘all the company of heaven’, as we say in the Eucharistic prayer

After 2 hours’ drive we met parishioners who praised God, with many testimonies of church growth; and then after 4 more hours reached the coastal town of Quelimane, where we ate and slept, after sharing messages of encouragement with the faithful, in a church built by a couple from Nigeria. This small bicycle-filled town has lots of potential to grow beyond the current single parish.

We then flew in a 4-seater plane to Nampula, a more developed town, where, as indeed was so everywhere, we were greeted with joyful singing and dancing. Our theme at the Eucharist, held in an indoor sports hall, was ‘Developing the Journey’, and we focussed on our unity in Christ, building peace, and courage in the face of poverty, disease, and syncretism (being sucked into local, non-Christian, cultures). You may remember that the Mozambican wars of liberation began in the north, and many are still scarred, spiritually, physically, and emotionally, by those times. Yet this is an area of high literacy, forward looking, and with a vision for growth – not only numerical, but growth that is ever-more deeply rooted in our Lord (without which any church risks becoming merely some social organisation).

We then flew to Lichinga, the northern province’s capital, and Bishop Mark’s home. The church is larger and more established here. Near the airport, we visited the diocesan farm (much in need of development), and drove in convoy with truck-loads of parishioners singing joyful songs of welcome, to see two churches currently under construction. We held a service to celebrate St Bernard Mizeki (himself a Mozambican) in an indoor sports stadium. The theme was hospitality, courage and love, reflecting both Bernard Mizeki’s example and the readings of the day. The local mayor – a Muslim, married to a Mothers Union member – and the Provincial President, who is a parishioner, brought greetings, and praised Bishop Mark and the Diocese for their involvement in social justice issues. We had supper with the local clergy and the mayor, and I realised that like Christ and his disciples, so much of the deep fellowship of the visit was experienced through sharing meals together.

On Sunday we took a 2-hour drive to the Cathedral at Messumba. The beautiful lake-side region reminded me of parts of South Africa’s Wild Coast, and areas around Port St John in Mthatha diocese. The vast lake appears much like the sea! It was an amazing day, starting with crossing the bridge-less river, and then we walked – hundreds of us – in procession to the Cathedral, walking fast to avoid the dust and the scorching sun. When we arrived the large Cathedral building was already packed to capacity. We celebrated Trinity Sunday with four exhilarating hours of joyful celebration, singing and dancing, with radio and TV to witness us. Among the overwhelmingly generous gifts that were given to me were 2 doves, 2 fresh eggs, rice, and many crafts. The Bernard Mizeki society sang while we shared lunch. Driving home (accompanied by a bakkie-load of singing, praying, members of St Agnes’ Guild), we saw more churches under construction, and I thank God for the good land with which the diocese is endowed.

The next morning I flew to Lilongwe in a tiny 4-seater, with just the pilot, whose chatty conversation dispelled my great nervousness at being in such a tiny aircraft. He let me sit in the co-pilot’s seat, and it was an amazing experience to cross the vast lake at 20,000ft. Even so, it was a relief to land in Lilongwe and transfer to a larger plane for the next leg of my journey home!

Though the Diocese is 150 years old, I found Niassa to be, like Mozambique itself, full of the vibrant life of a very youthful population. I saw how critical is the role of catechists, in evangelism and building up young congregations so that they learn how to mature and stand on their own feet. Music and storytelling are key in communicating who Jesus is, all that he offers, and the life to which he calls us – which people are hungry to learn. I was also struck by the poverty of the diocese, reflected in the Bishop’s elderly Toyota that I feared might break down at any point and leave us stranded! Yet I saw how great God’s grace is, in challenging circumstances, and came home feeling refreshed and enriched by my visit – feeling the paradox of the kingdom that is, and is yet to come, as I both saw 150 years of history, and felt so much new life that is on the point of being born afresh.

‘Youth’ seems to be my theme this week, writing between meetings of the ANC Youth League and our own Provincial Youth Council. I returned to find the press full of Julius Malema’s statements on reforming land, mines and the whole economy. What he has raised is not new and we should not be alarmed. We need to engage him, and all young people, on what it means to make democracy work. As I discussed in a telephone conference with SACC church leaders, we must have educated public debate on today’s very different sort of ‘struggle’ – the commitment to rightly-focussed hard work that delivers economic justice, and tackles the needs of poverty, education and opportunity which (and Malema is right on this) particularly affect young people so adversely. There is hope, but we must not be afraid of rolling up our sleeves and getting our hands dirty. As my visit to Niassa showed, dedication and perseverance, even in very difficult and uncertain times, can deliver new life. So we must go forward with joy and resolve, and speak up for the poor, the fearful, the despairing, in the true hope of Jesus Christ.

Yours in the service of Christ

+Thabo Cape Town

Thursday 23 June 2011

Statement on the death of Kader Asmal

This statement was issued on 23 June 2011.

With the death of Kader Asmal, I have lost a dear friend, a mentor, and a fellow educator – and our country has lost a principled politician, a wise statesman, and a true gentleman. Another of that great generation of struggle leaders has passed on, to receive his just reward.

From his long commitment to law in the service of justice and human rights, through to his resignation over the disbanding of the Scorpions and his outspoken opposition to the draft Protection of Information Bill, he has always pursued, taught and modelled the very highest ethical standards. I shall miss him for his moral stature, his astute mind, his ready wit. I shall miss him for his love of cricket and quality cotton shirts. And I shall miss him for his erudite English and often incomprehensible riddles, with which he so often had us in uproarious laughter – as he did only last December, when we were together at Madiba’s Cape Town home at a dinner to welcome the new Warden of Rhodes House. It is hard to believe we shall not hear that unique voice again.

Lungi joins me in sending our personal condolences to Louise, and to all his family, as well as those of the Diocese of Cape Town and the whole Anglican Church of Southern Africa. Our prayers are with you as you mourn this remarkably accomplished individual, who also always remained such a modest, warm and loving human being. The Bible tells us of Jesus’ words, ‘Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted’ for it is in our honest grieving that we open ourselves to receive the tender touch and strengthening of God of compassion. May his love surround you all. And may Kader rest in peace, and rise in glory.

Issued by the Office of the Anglican Archbishop of Cape Town Inquiries: Wendy Tokata on 021- 763-1320 (office hours)

Saturday 11 June 2011

Sermon at the Funeral of Albertina Sisulu

This is the text of the sermon preached at the Funeral of Albertina Sisulu, in Orlando Stadium on 11 June 1011.

1 Pet 1:3-9

'Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! By his great mercy he has given us a new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who are being protected by the power of God through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. In this you rejoice, even if now for a little while you have had to suffer various trials, so that the genuineness of your faith—being more precious than gold that, though perishable, is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honour when Jesus Christ is revealed. Although you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and rejoice with an indescribable and glorious joy, for you are receiving the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls.'

Matthew 5:3-10

'Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted. Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth. Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled. Blessed are the merciful, for they will receive mercy. Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God. Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God. Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.'

May I speak in the name of God, who comforts those who mourn. Amen.

In his name, and in the precious name of Jesus – who died and rose again, to be the resurrection and the life – I greet you all once again, as we ask God’s comfort and strength upon all who grieve at the death of Mama Albertina Sisulu; even as we gather to celebrate the life of this remarkable woman.

Allow me to acknowledge all the important guests here today – the President of the country, the Deputy President, and all the other important visitors to our country at this time of mourning and yet a time of celebration. I also want to say to the Sisulu family – God is with you at this difficult time.

Within the Catholic and Anglican traditions today we remember St Barnabas – whose name means ‘The Son of Encouragement’, the one who encourages. And most of you will know that tomorrow is Pentecost, when we celebrate the coming of the Holy Spirit, whose name in the Greek of the New Testament is often translated ‘The Comforter’.

So my message today, my message of consolation, is about Encouragement and Comfort, as we celebrate Mama Albertina Sisulu’s life, and as we mourn her passing – commending her into the eternal arms of the God of love, the God whom she loved. Encouragement and Comfort are God’s words to us, as we heard in today’s two readings; they are the words we have for each other; and, it is fair to say, they are the words that Mama Sisulu speaks to us through her remarkable life.

Let me begin with speaking of encouragement. Many profound tributes have been paid to this outstanding woman, who dedicated her life to the cause of justice, to the vision of a non-racial South Africa, and lived to vote in democratic general elections.

I personally knew her when I was a student at Wits University and stayed in a residence called Glyn Thomas; and we consulted her on various issues before travelling by bus from Johannesburg to Cape Town for the launch of the UDF. We also consulted her around the Release Mandela Campaign and whether it would be at all sensible for us to drive Aubrey Mokoena’s Toyota Skyline – when we didn’t have driver’s licenses! – and when we were going to Brandfort to the take track suits for Tata Madiba. She gave us forthright criticism: but it was criticism we needed, in order to build us up and point us in a better direction.

Sadly today, too often, criticism is labelled anti-revolutionary, and we are discouraged from speaking out. But we should follow Mama Sisulu’s lead, and say what needs to be said – for the good of our leaders and for the good of our country. Mama Sisulu knew the power of Jesus’ words, that ‘the truth will set you free’ (Jn 8:32).

My experience of Ma Sisulu, confirmed also in the tributes, told me that here was a woman of enormous principles, of enormous moral strength. I must say, I am still in awe of her. Albertina Sisulu was a struggle icon from a struggle icon family. She was a fighter for family and women's rights and indeed the rights of all South Africans. In the Bible in Psalm 94:16, the Psalmist wrote ‘Who rises up for me against the wicked? Who stands up for me against the evildoers?’ I am sure that all of us can testify that Mama Sisulu did answer that call.

But we’ve heard that answering that call was not without costs to her and her family. For example, I was very moved to hear the story of how Zwelakhe and Sheila took to shouting Lindiwe’s name outside the prisons in Pretoria and Johannesburg, trying to find where she had been taken following her arrest, with their mother unable to look for her, because she was banned; and I was also moved by how Zwelakhe was arrested for calling his sister’s name outside the Pretoria Women’s Prison.

These stories, dear friends, illustrate the cost to family life and to Albertina, but also show the great love they all shared. Another example was Mama Sisulu’s deep concern for Lindiwe a year after her release – when, still traumatised by her experiences she would sometimes wake in the night, fearing that the police were surrounding the house and back to arrest her. Albertina used to speak of how Lindiwe had been tortured, pulled by her hair and bashed against the wall. I am told she would add, like a typical mother, ‘Lindiwe had long hair.’

Mama Sisulu’s example, dear friends, of dedication to her family and nation, is one we should take as encouragement. We should also be encouraged to follow her wider example of service, not only as a nurse, but in politics too. This we know she shared with her husband Walter – both are to us wonderful examples of selfless service in pursuit of all that is good and all that is right and all that is true and just: and they pursued these values for their own sake, and not because they knew they would get something out of it. Not for them, the pursuit of power for personal gain!

We heard in today’s gospel: ‘Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled’ Jesus said. God’s reward, dear friends, is greater than anything money can buy. This is his encouragement also, to us, if we are tempted to do less than our best. But God’s greater encouragement is this, that, though he fills our hearts, our souls, with a deep abiding sense of satisfaction, when we follow the path to which Jesus Christ calls us in our life on earth – the rewards of heaven are far, far, greater.

Jesus himself, through his resurrection – as our first reading says – has given us ‘a living hope’, a sure and certain hope, of this ‘inheritance that is not perishable’ which we know is there for our dear mother Albertina. She, we can be certain, is one of those for whom St Peter was writing when he said ‘you have had to suffer various trials’. But the genuineness of her faith, the genuineness of her commitment to do what was right in the eyes of God, was found indeed to be more precious than gold – and so we know that she will receive all the blessings that God has in store for her.

Remembering Mama Sisulu and her husband, reminds me, as speaker after speaker in tributes have said, that we are also caught up in the wonder of how they somehow became the great love story of the struggle years. Their love was a testimony that nothing could defeat – not separation, not even incarceration. Such love, such true love, draws strength from the love of God, which, the Bible tells us, nothing can overcome – not hardship, not distress, not even persecution.

As those famous verses from St Paul’s letter to the Romans go on to say, nothing can separate us from God’s love for us shown in Jesus Christ – nothing in this life, and not even death itself. This is the source of God’s encouragement, and of God’s comfort, to all of us. Albertina’s death cannot separate her from God’s love – and her death cannot separate us from God’s love either.

This is the love of the God who desires to take each one of us in his arms, and comfort us, like a mother who comforts her child. For God knows that death is still almost too much for us to bear. Jesus himself wept, as we know, for Lazarus, even though he knew that Lazarus would be returned to life. And we mourn Mama Sisulu’s passing, even though we know she had a long, long life, and achieved so much, of such deep and lasting value. Even though we know that, in Christ, she now knows the new life of heaven – we should not be afraid to grieve and to cry for her.

Jesus tells us this, when he says ‘Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.’ And so these are my words to the family -to Max, to Mlungisi, to Zwelakhe, to Lindiwe, to Nonkululeko – and to all the children: Do not be afraid to mourn and to grieve. Grieve what you have lost, in the death of your mother, your mother-in-law, your grandmother, your sister, your aunt, this child of God whom you loved. And grieve the losses of your life with her – the times you lost a mother to imprisonment; the times you lost her, even to the high calling of the struggle and political office.

All the rest of us who are here today, know that we owe you a great debt of gratitude – far greater than we probably can begin to imagine – that you shared your parents with us, and that you in turn have also given us so much. And I want to say - Thank you, thank you, more than we can say.

No doubt there were times when you might have preferred a normal family life, a mother and father at home for their children; a life free of persecution because of all they stood for and fought for. So God’s words of comfort are with you – for those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake. The promises of heaven are with you, and for all of us. God invites us to come to him, with all our grief, our sorrows, our anger, our disappointments – to mourn what is gone, to mourn what might have been.

In the book of the Revelation to St John, the Bible tells us God will one day wipe away every tear from our eyes, and death and mourning and crying and pain will be no more. But before then, we should not be afraid to weep at all the sadnesses of human life and the losses of death – to bring them to God and to let God surround us with his love, and his comfort. We must also weep, that the ideals of the Freedom Charter have not yet been realised; we must weep too that so many have used political power to enrich themselves and their relatives and friends, sometimes through blatant corruption – and so betray the legacy for which this family has striven.

But the God who comforts is also the God who encourages. He is the one who strengthens us, to say ‘no’ to such temptations. He is the one who helps us to make a fresh start where we need it and to hold fast to all that is good, and right and true. For what better way to celebrate Mama Sisulu than to follow the example that she gave us: to go forward, in the paths of justice, of honesty, of righteousness; the life of dedication, the commitment of a life serving through others.

And now, in our sadness, we nonetheless rejoice to know that she will hear those words of God who promised to all who follow the example and call of Jesus Christ. So we want to say to Mama Sisulu ‘Well done, true and faithful servant – enter now into your Lord’s joy’ (Matt 25:21). May she rest in peace – and rise in glory. Amen.

Wednesday 8 June 2011

Address at 5th South African HIV and AIDS Conference

This address was given on 8 June 2011 at the 5th South African HIV and AIDS Conference in Durban.

Our title for this session is ‘Is the Religious Sector’s Response to the HIV Epidemic Sufficient?’ I shall answer by speaking about the role of faith communities as a necessary and effective partner, not only in tackling HIV and AIDS, but also TB, and across society’s health needs. I will speak as an Anglican, with my colleagues from the Anglican AIDS and Health-care Trust supporting this with practical examples from their work and experience on the ground. Colleagues will offer Catholic, Methodist and Muslim perspectives, from their long experience of working with the poor and most vulnerable. In this way, what may seem a theoretical call from my paper will be ‘earthed’ by the panellists.

Care and compassion towards the sick and the suffering has been the touchstone of most faiths since earliest times. Historically, the emergence of hospitals was strongly influenced by the care provided by Christian Churches, over many centuries. Today close to half of all health services in sub-Saharan Africa are provided by the religious sector.

But this is only part our commitment to holistic human well-being. Christians speak of humanity being created to live in harmony with God, loving him with heart, soul, mind and strength; and to love our neighbours as ourselves. In other words, we, like our God, are concerned for emotional, spiritual, mental and physical well-being of both individuals and communities. Therefore our contribution should be as much about promoting good health and disease prevention, as about responding to ill-health and its wider consequences in our communities.

This care and compassion, in practical terms, means an urgent and vocal commitment on our part to intensifying all our efforts that seek to ensure access for all God’s people, especially the poor and vulnerable, to adequate prevention, care, treatment and support. We cannot do this alone; we must continue working in communities, with those most affected, discriminated, with stigma and are silenced.

Community Engagement and Primary Health Care

It is at community level where the religious sector can perhaps make the greatest difference. Our pervasive grass roots presence allows us to work ‘bottom up’, vitally complementing the ‘top down’ approach that is inevitably part of the national and provincial responsibilities of Governments and Health Departments. And we certainly need to make a difference at the grass roots, if we are to make headway in health promotion and disease prevention as well as caring for the sick. We can do so through continuing our education programmes which help to break stigma, silence and death; and give a voice to people living with HIV. Within general health promotion, we give a particular priority to ensuring access to prevention measures, treatment, and a broad range of care and support to mothers, children and all living with HIV and TB. These are chief amongst the health challenges that we are facing at this time.

I am delighted that we share so much of this vision with our current Health Minister, Dr Aaron Motsoaledi. Last year he launched what he calls ‘a massive primary healthcare campaign’, which is as much about teaching healthy living as it is about caring for the sick. With Dr Motsoaledi, I was privileged to co-chair a national conference on religion and public health last October, which was sponsored by the National Religious Association for Social Development. Out of this, and our continued involvement with the South African National AIDS Council, we are developing various partnerships between government and faith communities. We hope soon to sign a Memorandum with the Department of Health.

My own church has also worked with other governments, including those of the US, UK and Canada, in running community-based programmes. Through the NRSAD we are also in partnership with the Global Fund.

In all of these, education and capacity building around good practices in disease prevention and treatment is a key objective. For though poverty exacerbates health problems in many ways, one of the most insidious is the lack of basic education. This is the most significant reason

• why HIV still spreads at unacceptable levels

• why TB, entirely treatable, remains so prevalent

• why people don’t stick with their courses of medicine

• why people are so passive, defeatist, in the face of illness, often only going to clinics when they are seriously unwell

• why so many of us follow life-style practices that increase the risk of us developing serious, even life-threatening, conditions including diabetes, heart disease, and cancer – when so many of these are largely unavoidable.

The great saga around toilets in our recent local elections illustrates the vast task that the country faces in providing adequate clean water and sanitation facilities for our population. This is one area – among others, of course – where the religious sector is pressing the government to do better. But good hygiene habits also have a vital role to play in cutting the close to 100 deaths a day of South African children to diarrhoeal diseases.

It is a truism that ‘Prevention is better than cure’. Teaching people how to live well has always been at the heart of religious activity. So we must ensure that we train religious leaders explicitly to promote good health education – directly and through their congregations – within their local communities, as part of this call to abundant life of heart, soul, mind and body. Jesus said his followers were to be like salt in the world – a tiny amount can make the difference between a tasteless meal and something wholly delicious! We must do the same.

Informing Minds, Transforming Behaviour

Such teaching is not just to inform minds – it must also transform behaviour. Studies regularly show that in South Africa we have very high levels of awareness about HIV and TB – but this has been slow to change sexual and social behaviour. In Uganda, the most significant prevention measures came through person to person communication at grass roots level, in which religious networks played a key role. We must mobilise our people to persist in doing the same – and indeed, within the Anglican church we are particularly aiming to do this, for example, through the Siyafundisa (‘Teaching our Children’) Peer Education and Life Skills Education programmes, funded by PEPFAR. Recent studies are finally beginning to show, thank God, a reduction in infection rates among young people.

Of course, it must be admitted that churches and other faith communities have not always played a positive role in relation to education on HIV and AIDS. Let’s face it, the religious sector has found it hard to talk more constructively around issues of sex, which is so often something of a taboo subject. For too long we fuelled stigma, and with it ignorance and denial, all of which contributed to the disease’s spread. But as we learn to speak more openly, honestly, and constructively, about these diseases and the factors around them, so we can help society as a whole to deal with them in this way.

I think, for example, of a man who, after wrestling with his status, admitted openly that he was HIV +ve, even though he was a monk, and supposed to be celibate. By acknowledging publicly that he was ‘only human’, he discovered that he was able to come alongside people, and genuinely engage with them in a way he never could if they had not been able to identify with him in the way they now did. There are many other good news stories of where changing church attitudes have helped change community attitudes. I leave it to my colleagues to give practical examples from their work on the ground.

These examples, will, I hope, demonstrate that making a transition from being part of the problem to being part of the solution has required first of all a commitment to ensuring our faith leaders are well-educated in the facts and appropriate attitudes. We must continue to also tackle patriarchal distortions in our own teachings that too often collude in the abuse of women and children, which is also such a damaging part of community health and well-being.

People on the Ground

The presence of churches and other faiths in every community can help in the battle for good health in other ways. We can support Government by offering places where community-based health officers and nurse-practitioners can provide essential primary care at village level; or hold mobile clinics; or connect patients with mobile phone-based ‘telemedicine’. A consensus is emerging that these are cheap and effective ways of significantly boosting health care.

All these are over and above the care networks and programmes that so many of us already run to support those infected and affected by HIV, AIDS, TB and other illnesses. Let me mention the Anglican Vana Vetu (‘Caring for our Children’) Programme, funded by DFID and PEPFAR, which aims to ensure that orphaned and vulnerable children receive appropriate care and support to grow to their full potential. It provides counselling, education, care and support to communities and also trains people to respond to their needs.

Caring for Souls

But, as I draw to a close, let me say something about the religious sector’s unique and necessary contribution. For we are far, far, more than just another social development organisation that can assist governments in their uphill task of promoting good health. Medicine can treat the body, but physical well-being is intimately linked to spiritual and emotional health.

All of us are mortal – yet death is increasingly one of society’s last taboos. Too often we behave as if it were an unsubstantiated rumour – until, of course, it faces us. Then people need our support, our care, our clear proclamation of the love of God that encompasses both this world and the next. One task of faith communities is to help everyone to live with honesty, and face death without terror or despair – setting people free to make the most of their lives in generous loving relationships with those around them.

An ancient prayer asks God to grant us a ‘good death’. I have to say that where people have dared to face their dying, by putting their hand in the hand of God, trusting him and finding his gift of peace, that they are amongst the most healed people – healed emotionally and spiritually – that I have ever met.

It is not only the sick, the dying, and their nearest and dearest for whom we care, and for whom we pray. We can also provide health professionals with spiritual and emotional support. Sometimes, in their stressed and demanding lives, it can make the world of difference to receive a ‘good listening to’ when they need it; to know they are valued; to know that they too are upheld in our prayers and those of our communities.

This week we mourn the passing of Ma Sisulu – who, among her many gifts and achievements was a dedicated nurse. We need to value nurses as we did when she trained – and resource them to make the difference that she and her generation contributed to our country.

So may God bless our discussions here; and bless us in the lessons we take home and share with our own communities. For most of all, we pray that he will make us communities of blessing to those around – especially those in greatest need. Amen

Friday 3 June 2011

Statement on the Death of Albertina Sisulu

This statement was issued on 3 June 2011.

On behalf of the Anglican Church of Southern Africa, I offer my heartfelt condolences to the family of Albertina Sisulu, as I thank God for the gift of her remarkable life.

The Psalmist wrote, “Who rises up for me against the wicked? Who stands up for me against the evildoers?” (Ps 94:16) Albertina Sisulu was a struggle icon from a struggle icon family.

She was a fighter for family and women's right and indeed the rights of all disenfranchised.

As we take this time to mourn her death – with her family, our nation and the whole world, we also give thanks for her 92 years of life. Hers was a faithful life of service and dedication and sacrifice – lived for her family and for others, especially for the restoration of dignity of her fellow South Africans. She and Walter, her husband of many years, were a staunch and committed team in all aspects of their lives.

May the comfort and strength of the eternal God, who is love, surround you, her family, as you celebrate her life and mourn her passing.

Issued by the Office of the Anglican Archbishop of Cape Town. Inquiries: Wendy Tokata on 021- 763-1320 (office hours)